Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saddle Up: More Big East goodness
By Eamonn Brennan
Saddle Up is our semi-daily preview of the night's best basketball action.
No. 9 Georgetown at No. 15 Notre Dame, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Two nights after Pittsburgh and Connecticut opened the Big East conference with a matchup of highly ranked, highly regarded teams, the Big East delivers yet again. Tonight's festivities include this game and, well, yeah. It's going to be a good one.
How do I know? Several reasons. The first is offense: Both Georgetown and Notre Dame excel at it. Thanks to their uncanny ability to put the ball in the basket from everywhere on the floor -- good for a 60.1 effective field goal percentage, the highest in the nation, in fact -- the Hoyas are the country's third best offensive team. This is remarkable, given how so-so the Hoyas are in other facets of offensive basketball. Georgetown turns the ball over a decent amount, doesn't get to the free throw line much, and isn't particularly tough on the offensive boards. But none of those things matter. The Hoyas make shots, and when you make shots, you're going to score a lot of points. True story.
Notre Dame isn't quite as good as the Hoyas on the offensive end of the floor, but it's an efficient scoring machine in its own right. The Irish like to slow the game down, take care of the ball, get good looks for Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough, and hope those looks turn into made buckets or free throws. That's usually the case, as both players shoot the ball well from the field and the line. This isn't the most entertaining way to score, but it's very effective. Gone are the days of Luke Harangody's high usage rates and bombs-away style. This Irish team likes to take its time.
Combine those offenses with a pair of so-so defenses, throw in Georgetown's well-deserved reputation as a nonconference road warrior, add a dash of innate Joyce Center madness, and you've got what should be a close, hard-fought Big East matchup with plenty of scoring to go around. Get the couch groove ready, kids, because it's time to settle in.